London meeting for Ukraine plane victims urges Iran to hold responsible to account

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Foreign ministers from Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and the UK pay their respects to those who died when Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner. (AN Photo/Zaynab Khojji)
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The plane was shot down hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing US troops in Iraq. (File/AFP)
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Updated 16 January 2020

London meeting for Ukraine plane victims urges Iran to hold responsible to account

  • Asked what pressure could be applied if Iran did not cooperate, Champagne said: “It's called the international community”
  • Meeting included foreign ministers of Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, UK and Netherlands

LONDON: The countries whose citizens were killed when Iran shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane demanded that authorities in Tehran bring those responsible to justice through “an independent criminal investigation” on Thursday.

They said Iran must also initiate “impartial judicial proceedings which conform to international standards” against those accountable in a joint statement issued at the Canadian High Commission in London by Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan and Britain.

The statement issued a five-point plan for cooperation with Iran, and called on the state to recognise its duties towards the families of the victims and other parties, including compensation.

"Families want answers, the international community wants answers, the world is waiting for answers and we will not rest until we get them," Canada's Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said at the meeting.

Iran said its military “unintentionally” shot down the jet on Jan. 8 killing all 176 people aboard, after initially repeatedly denying Western accusations that it was responsible.

The international coordination and response group for the families of the victims met at the High Commission of Canada in London, and was attended by the foreign ministers from Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, the UK and the Netherlands.

The group also discussed the victim identification process and recommended that the process is conducted with dignity, transparency and according to international standards.

Champagne told a news conference after the meeting on Thursday that families of those who died needed closure and there was a need to prevent similar incidents in the future.

"When you accept full responsibility there are consequences coming from that," he said.

Asked what pressure could be applied if Iran did not cooperate, Champagne said: “It's called the international community.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said the bodies of all 11 Ukrainian citizens who died in the plane crash have been identified.

Earlier, the foreign ministers paid their respects to those who died when Iran shot down the Ukrainian airliner last week.

Canada's Francois-Philippe Champagne and Britain's Dominic Raab, with the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Sweden and Afghanistan each lit a candle to commemorate the victims at the Canadian High Commission, and paused for a moment of reflection before the meeting began.

A Ukrainian plane was shot down hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing US troops in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad. No one was wounded in the attack on the bases.

Among the victims of the crash were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British nationals.


Turkey’s Erdogan says no agreement yet on four-way Syria summit

Updated 25 February 2020

Turkey’s Erdogan says no agreement yet on four-way Syria summit

  • Turkey has sent thousands of troops and equipment to Idlib to head off the campaign driven by Russian air raid

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that there was not yet full agreement on holding a proposed March 5 summit with Russia, France and Germany on the conflict in Syria’s Idlib, but he may meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin on that date.
Syrian government forces are pushing to retake the last large rebel-held region in Syria after nine years of war and nearly a million Syrians, mostly women and children, have been displaced by the fighting since early December.
At a news conference in Ankara before departing on a trip to Azerbaijan, Erdogan said that a Russian delegation was set to come to Turkey on Wednesday to discuss the Idlib situation.
“There is no full agreement yet between (French President Emmanuel) Macron ... (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel, and Putin,” he said. Macron and Merkel have both urged Putin to end the conflict, concerned about the humanitarian situation.
On Saturday, Erdogan said that Turkey had set out a “road map” for Syria after calls with the three leaders, while the Kremlin has said it was discussing the possibility of holding a four-way summit.
Turkey has sent thousands of troops and equipment to Idlib to head off the campaign driven by Russian air raids and 17 members of the Turkish forces have been killed. Turkey already hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees, says it cannot handle another wave and has closed its borders.